Nashville is a mixed bag. There are young musicians and creative types (Jack White, Karen Elson), stiff-collared country clubbers, and Grand Ole Opry die-hards; it beckons with quiet anonymity and Southern hospitality. Ripe for visitors, the city is brimming with food, bumping with beats, and buzzing with history.
Rock Around the Clock
Git your honky-tonk on at Tootsies Orchid Lounge, where you can park yourself at the bar and hear live music daily. Country great Garth Brooks got his start at The Bluebird Cafe, a tiny, 100-seat venue spilling with music lovers.
Rest Your Laurels
Located just off Music Row, boutiquey Hotel Indigo offers comfy beds and mod design. Newish Hutton Hotel has it all: in-room cardio equipment and sleek design, and it’s pet friendly to boot. Set in a restored 19th-century railroad station, the Union Station Hotel is as grand as it gets. Don’t miss Prime 108, the hotel’s snazzy bar and steak joint.
Brave the Lines
Jack’s Bar-B-Que is worth the wait. Meat lovers go for the Tennessee pork shoulder and Texas beef brisket; the homemade sauce has its own cult following. At night, drink like it’s the Prohibition era at The Patterson House, Nashville’s answer to the speakeasy: inventive cocktails with homemade syrups and bitters, delectable bites (cinnamon beignets), and a parloresque ambiance.
Eat Your Peas and Carrots
Head to artsy East Nashville for dinner at Margot Cafe & Bar. Cozy and low-key, the kitchen has a different menu each day featuring seasonal, local ingredients. Margot’s owners also run Marché Artisan Foods, a Euro-style cafe offering specialties like strawberry shortcake with sweet cornmeal biscuits. Tayst, the city’s only green-certified restaurant, serves upscale seasonal, Southern-inflected fare. Hit Sylvan Park Restaurant (4502 Murphy Road; 615-292-9275) for the classic meat and three (sides, in Southern speak), which includes fried okra, black-eyed peas, fried corn, and more. If you still have room, order a warm waffle cone oozing with Trailer Trash ice cream (vanilla, M&M’s, Oreos) from Pied Piper Creamery.
Droppin’ Cash in the Nash
Bespoke denim, well-worn cowboy boots, and hand-dyed scarves thrill at Imogene + Willie. Find Steven Alan, Built by Wendy, and a rainbow assortment of Converse at Two Elle. H. Audrey stocks Alexander Wang, M Z Wallace, and IRO. And your vintage oxfords, dresses, and more are handpicked by owners Amy Patterson and Karen Elson at Venus and Mars the Showroom (now closed).
Photo: Idovermani / Flickr; Courtesy of Hutton Hotel; Smithereen11 / Flickr; WordRidden / Flickr; Courtesy of Venus and Mars The Showroom